Things usually do not go well for the Cavs if when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin d not play. Saturday night’s game against the Clippers was no exception, as the Cavs fell 108-78.
The Cavaliers announced before the game that the “Big Three” would be sitting the game out. Irving sat out due to the knee injury he suffered Thursday against the Jazz. Love missed the game because it was part of the Cavs’ plan for him as he comes back from his knee surgery. Then James was held out for rest due to the fact that the Cavs did not want him on the floor without the other two members of the Big Three. The Cavaliers were also without Kyle Korver, who missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of Shumpert baskets, the Clippers went on a 12-0 run. Cleveland went scoreless for four minutes until Channing Frye broke the scoreless streak with a turnaround jumper to make it 12-6 with 6:16 to go in the first. That Frye basket actually ignited a 12-2 run for the Cavaliers, who went into the second quarter with a 16-14 lead. Neither team shot well in the first. Los Angeles went just 6-20, and Cleveland was not much better, going 8-21 in the first.
Following a slow first quarter, the Cavaliers continued to struggle offensively, but the Clippers found their stroke near halftime and went into the break leading 47-31. The Cavs’ offensive problems were a result of a lack of open looks. Without their three best offensive players on the floor, nothing came easy. Where Irving or James normally draw defenses’ attention and create looks for everyone else, the role players were forced to create for themselves Saturday night. The Cavaliers didn’t even shoot their first free throws until the 2:32 mark of the second quarter. Additionally, the Cavaliers failed to make a 3-pointer in the first half, going 0-13 from 3-point range.
While the Cavs couldn’t get anyone going, the Clippers leaned on DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick in the first half. Jordan was busy in the first 24 minutes, scoring 11 points and collecting 11 rebounds. Reddick scored 14 points on 5-9 shooting and made the only two 3-pointers of the first half for either team.
The Cavaliers showed some life early in the third quarter when they went on a 6-0 run highlighted by a pair of Frye 3-pointers. The Cavs run was short-lived, though. Blake Griffin went on a tear, scoring 13 points in the third quarter. Griffin did it all offensively. He was hitting from 3-point range, mid-range and inside. Griffin finished with a game-high points. By the end of the third, the Clippers led 76-58, and they weren’t looking back.
Things only got worse for Cleveland in the fourth quarter, as the Cavaliers went scoreless for the first 3:15 of the fourth until Richard Jefferson sank a corner 3-pointer to make it 84-61. That was as close as the Cavs got for the rest of the game, though.
Cleveland shot just 39 percent from the floor and 18.5 percent from 3-point range. Additionally, they did not share the ball well, as they finished the game with just 15 assists. Cleveland had seven players score in double figures, but no one had more than Richard Jefferson, who led the team with just 12 points.
The loss meant that the Cavs dropped a half of a game in the standings, drawing the Celtics to within just one-and-a-half games of the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland will be back on the floor Sunday when it takes on the Lakers. James, Love and Irving are expected to play in that one.